Life’s all about finding someone on the same page.
Newly single and uninspired by his job in college admissions, the introverted Jesse Fisher (Josh Radnor) lives with his head buried in a book. His deep nostalgia for his own alma mater in Ohio – the dining halls and dorm rooms, the parties and poetry seminars – makes him wonder if his best days are behind him.
So when his favorite professor (Richard Jenkins) invites him back to campus to speak at his retirement dinner, Jesse jumps at the chance. Meeting Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen) – a precocious classical music-loving sophomore – awakens in Jesse long-dormant feelings of possibility and connection.
Liberal Arts is an American comedy-drama film. The second film directed by, written by, and starring Josh Radnor, it tells the story of 35-year-old Jesse (Radnor) who has a romantic relationship with Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), a 19-year-old college student. The film premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in January 2012.
Jesse Fischer (Radnor) is a 35-year-old college admissions officer in New York City who loves literature and language, but is newly single and dissatisfied with his life and career. He believes that the happiest time of his life was the years at his unnamed Ohio liberal arts college, where he could study poetry uninterrupted, surrounded by others like him. Peter Holberg (Jenkins), his old English professor, invites Jesse back to the college to attend Peter’s retirement ceremony. Jesse meets 19-year-old Zibby (Olsen), a sophomore studying drama and the daughter of Peter’s friends.
After the retirement dinner, Jesse stumbles upon a dorm party where he runs into Zibby. They agree to have coffee together the next day. He spends the afternoon with Zibby, and they walk around the campus discussing life, books, and music. He also encounters his old romantics teacher, Judith Fairfield (Janney)—a woman he has long admired—and meets Dean (Magaro), a brilliant but depressed student who, like Jesse, always carries a book with him. Before Jesse leaves, Zibby asks to stay in touch; they become pen pals, and become closer via handwritten letters.